DANCE ORIGIN: Odisha
First Appearance in EDF: 2014
Sujata Mohapatra is disciple and daughter-in-law of the late Guru Padmabibhushan Ke lucharan Mohapatra, the legendary exponent of odissi, and she inherited his ardent devotion for the classical dance form. Her performances have won applause from audiences worldwide and she has conducted international performances as member of ‘Srjan’ (Odissi Nrityabhasa), the prime Odissi dance institution formed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, where she holds the designation of Principal Dancer.
Her dedication has been acknowledged by receiving the Pt. Jasraj Award, Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi award, Mahari award, Aditya Birla Vikram Samman, The Raza Foundation Award, and others. At present she continues her dancing career under the tutelage of her husband Guru Ratikant Mohapatra.
SOLOIST: Sujata Mohapatra
CHOREOGRAPHER: Guru Ratikant Mohapatra
MUSIC: Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi
Soloist Sujata Mohapatra is known for her grace, depth of expression, and technical perfection, as well as her strict adherence to the odissi dance style of the late legendary Guru Mohapatra. Here she presents Varsha—The Rains, based on Rutu Samhara, the immortal work by the poet Kalidas, a story of monsoons and love. It’s an expressional (nritya) piece, evoking the movements of animals.
In India, when the monsoons arrive, the life-giving rain falls in excess. Heavy drops fall and storms and floods bring destruction. But when the rains finally stop, life rebounds with even greater joy. Earth literally springs back to life, igniting the passionate season of love. So the peacock dances with abandon for its mate, its feathered fantail resplendent. The elephant, the deer, and the snake, also dance in joy, celebrating Earth’s abundant renewal.
Odissi dance is very old, dating back to at least the second century BCE. However, it is also one of the youngest traditions, revived only in the 1950s with an ingenious and creative reconstruction from available fragments: from devotional dance of temple dancers called Maharis; from the agile dance of boy dancers called Gotipuas; from the basic principles and technique documented in the Natya Shastra, the Silpa Shastras of Orissa, and other texts; and from the beautiful poses carved into ancient temple walls. Contemporary dancers have since expanded the repertoire with new choreographies and themes.
Odissi is known for its rounded movements and for its unique use of the torso. In this choreography, Sujata demonstrates the form’s subtle proportions, highlighting the dynamic sculptural quality. She also brings to life Odissi’s extensive study and exquisite stylization of animal and bird movements. The melodic pattern is raga malika; and the rhythm is tala malika, a garland of different melodies and meters.
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